Chapter 3, The Themes of Art, will introduce you to some of the basic terms of "the language of art." The mass-appeal and effect of media in western culture, from magazines and television to the Internet, has made us visually dependent, but not necessarily visually literate. Learning these terms, concepts, and expressions will assist you as you further develop your "visual literacy."
After reading this chapter you should:
- know the definitions of key terms including:
- genre painting
- know that artists represent the world to preserve that which is transient, or to isolate and/or amplify that which we find beautiful.
- recognize that we all engage in the practice of "aesthetics," from decorating our living spaces, to organizing our closets. We "arrange" to improve appearance.
- recognize that we find pleasure in the representation of everythingfrom the mundane scenes of everyday life, to images that attempt to capture the spiritual and the sublime.
- be familiar with the differences and correlations between representational, abstract and nonobjective art, while understanding it will sometimes be difficult to make exacting distinctions between them.
- know the difference between objective and subjective representation.
- recognize the relationship between form and content in a given work of art, and observe how in successful works of art they are inseparable.
- see how a nonobjective work of art can have similarities to a representational work of art.
- see that making a work of art can involve a great deal of decision making. Many great works don't just happen!
- know that although most of us respond more readily to "beautiful" or aesthetic images, artists can make us see the beauty in an "ugly" image via its underlying message or their skillful means of representation.
In Chapter 3 you will read about artists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who began to explore the "freedom of invention"the desire to abstract and bring their own subjective feelings to their work. From surrealist painters to documentary photographers, we begin to realize that artists can effect our emotions and responses to the sublime and the mundane. In this chapter you will continue your comparisons between various pairs or sets of art works. This process ultimately leads into the next chapterSeeing the Value in Art.